Snails are things which always end up appearing and reappearing in fish tanks. They can be very hard to totally remove and many people just don’t want them in their fish tanks. Don’t get us wrong, there are both advantages and disadvantages to having snails in your tank. However the disadvantages are quite large and those are the things that people tend to focus on so let’s look at how to get rid of snails in fish tanks.
Snails do multiply pretty fast, so if you don’t do anything about a couple snails, chances are that within a few weeks you will have a couple dozen or more in your tank. So, you want to remove all traces of snails for your fish tank, which is why we are here, to tell you exactly how you can prevent and control snail infestations.
Pros & Cons Of Snails In Your Fish Tank
Just like with most things out there, there are good parts and parts to having snails in your aquarium, so let’s just talk about those quickly.
- Snails are good at cleaning. They will hunt through substrate and eat uneaten fish food, they eat fish waste, dead fish parts, rotten tank plants, fur on tank walls, and slime in the water. They actually do a pretty good job of cleaning a fish tank.
- Snails are good indicators of how pure and clean the water in a fish tank is.
- They make for a good decorative element.
- They multiple ridiculously quick and can infest your tank with several dozen snails in just a matter of weeks.
- If the snails do not have enough food they will start to eat and kill the plants in your aquarium.
- Too many snails will cause an oxygen level drop in the water, thus endangering the wellbeing of your fish.
- Too much fish food in the tank will cause snails to breed very fast.
- Snails can get out of the tank, run away, and start infesting your home.
Where Do Aquarium Snails Come From & How Do They Multiply
Most people don’t actually buy aquarium snails, yet they still often find their way into aquariums. People everywhere end up asking, how did these blasted snails get into my aquarium?!? The answer is quite simple actually.
Snails are often present on the plants that you buy for your aquarium, or at least snail eggs are, snail eggs which will hatch in your aquarium. They can also find their way into your aquarium when they are accidentally netted with the fish at the pet store.
How Do Snails Reproduce?
The funny thing is that the vast majority of snails are hermaphrodytes, which means that they are both sexes. This is why when people say, well there was only one snail, how did it turn into 100? The answer is because they can reproduce by themselves.
They can fertilize their own eggs and lay them without a problem, hence why one snail can turn into many in just a few short weeks. Moreover, many snails like to hide or burrow in the substrate, which means that if you see one snail, there are probably many more roaming around plants or beneath your substrate.
Preventing A Snail Infestation
We will get around to how to remove snails from your aquarium, but the best way to deal with snails is to never let them into your aquarium in the first place.
Here are some of the best and most effective ways of preventing snails from ever making it into the tank.
Since most snails find their way into your aquarium via the plants they reside on, these methods are mostly focused on clearing snails off of plants before putting the plants in the fish tank.
Alum is a natural substance, and to use it for getting snails off of plants simply mix 2 tablespoons of alum in with one gallon of water, let the plants soak in it for 2 or 3 days, rinse off the plants, and put them in the aquarium. This will kill off all snails and snail eggs.
This method is more or less the same as the alum method. Simply mix 1 – ½ cups of bleach with a gallon of water, soak the plants in the solution for 5 minutes, remove them, then let the plants soak in normal water mixed with a de-chlorinating solution.
Rinse the plants well after this and make sure there is no bleach left on the plants as this may be harmful to your fish. On a side note, some plants may be damaged by the bleach, but it is the very best way to kill snails and snail eggs before they ever make it into the aquarium.
Simply mix half a tablespoon of this stuff with a gallon of water, soak the plants in that for 15 minutes, rinse off the plants very well, and put them in your fish tank.
How To Get Rid of Snails In Fish Tank: 5 Solutions
If you did not manage to prevent the snails from making it into your aquarium, there are always several snail removal methods that you can try. Here are the most effective ways of removing snails from your fish tank.
Many people who are new to aquariums will use chemicals to get rid of snails due to it being easy and inexpensive. Most chemicals used to kill snails such as Tropical Hydra-Tox will completely kill all snails and snail eggs without killing fish. However, always read the manual and only use as directed because an overdose of these chemicals may in fact harm or kill fish.
2. Snail Traps
You can go to your local fish or pet store and buy specially made snail traps. You simply put some food the snail likes into the trap and let the snail wander into it. It is an effective way of getting rid of snails, but you always need to keep at it as this method will most likely never catch all of the snails.
3. Manual Removal
Perhaps the simplest way of removing snails from your aquarium is by doing so manually. You can use your hands or a net to simply pluck them out of the aquarium. Keep in mind that getting hidden snails this way will be very hard. To increase the chances of manually removing all of the snails in the fish tank, you can always use some lettuce, vegetables, or a browned banana skin.
Put any of those things on a plate, wait for the snails to be attracted to them, then simply remove the snails from the plate. Do this for 3 days straight and chances are that you will have removed most or even all of the living snails from the aquarium.
4. Snail Eating Fish
A great way to control snail populations is to introduce predatory fish which will eat the snails. One of the best snail eating fish to have is the green spotted puffer, a type of fish that can eat snails with the hardest of shells.
The problem is that the green spotted puffer is quite aggressive and may also attack or eat other fish in the community. Another type of fish you can use to eat snails is the clown loach.
These fish can easily eat hard shelled snails, but they are fairly large and should be kept in schools, so they are only ideal for larger tanks. Finally, paradise fish can also be quite useful for this task, but they do need to be quite hungry to actually go after snails.
5. Predatory Snails
Ok, so this solution does come with an obvious drawback. Predatory snails like the assassin snail will eat all other snails, but then again, you will still have snails in your tank.On the other hand, they do not multiply too quickly so controlling an assassin snail population is not very difficult.
As you can see, snails can be somewhat beneficial to a fish tank, but by and large, too many of them will do more harm to your fish tank than good. If you want to prevent a snail infestation or get rid of a current one, the above methods are the easiest, cheapest, and most effective solutions to go with.